Whether you’re on your gap year or simply want an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity, Africa is a fantastic continent to visit for a memorable adventure. Whether you opt for a solo backpacking adventure, or you want to schedule a trip around the continent with a couple of friends, both will be just as enjoyable and you probably won’t want to come home, once you become mystified by the incredible opportunities Africa has to offer.
We have created a short beginners’ guide to get you on the right track to planning your trip around Africa.
When you travel abroad it is highly recommended that you have some form of medical insurance to protect you along your journey. While in Europe, it is advisable to renew ehic (European Health Insurance Card) before your trip, Africa doesn’t quite have this luxury available in terms of free or reduced cost healthcare for its travellers. As a result, you should aim to ensure that you have the most appropriate type of medical insurance and travel insurance before your trip takes place, and this covers you for any of the activities that you want to partake in. For example, if you want to surf in South Africa, you should ensure that your policy covers you for this water sport and any other type of ‘extreme’ activities that you want to take part in.
Along the same lines, make sure you take the correct medical preparations by having the vaccinations required and have all of the antimalarials required. Check which injections you need, as this is often dependent on the country you are going to and book an appointment to have them done with plenty of time before your trip. As part of your trip across Africa, you are likely to be exposed to a series of different conditions which you will need to be protected against. Contact a medical professional if you have any queries.
Plan Your Route
Before you leave for Africa, plan your route and decide when and where you want to go. Make a list of your ‘must see and do’s’ and the ‘perfect’ time of year to visit them, and also consider basing your trip around some key events. For example, you might want to visit Victoria Falls when the water level is low. However, don’t over-book your itinerary. Leave yourself some flexibility, so if you hear about an event or somewhere amazing to visit from other travellers, then you won’t have to miss out. You may also want to plan to travel during the offseason to save some money along the way – but make sure that this doesn’t cause any issues as you travel – you don’t want to be stranded!
Book your flights in advance if you are travelling to different places on the continent that are significantly far away from each other. Then simply plan your route and activities to do in those parts of the country and just don’t miss your flight! You will need to save up quite a bit of money before you depart, which will be mainly spent on your flights and some on your accommodation. Alternatively, you could book a flight to your first destination, and then travel to the next one via different modes of transport, or by booking the flights on the day of your next trip. This may help to save you some money if you opt for last-minute flights.
You can either book your accommodation in advance or be more spontaneous and find hostels and small bed and breakfasts to stay in when you get there. That way you can alter what you are doing without being fixed to where you are staying. If hostels are not available or you can’t find any, then hotels are a great alternative but ensure you have enough money to be flexible with your accommodation as these can typically be expensive. Do your research on the best places to stay around the areas you are travelling to, so you will have a rough idea when you travel there.
For most African countries you will require a visa, so check which ones you need and apply for them in advance. A lot of the countries allow you to get one when you enter the country at the airport or border control, but do your research so you don’t end up in trouble when you reach customs. You should be able to contact an embassy or government body to provide you with additional information on the types of visas that are required for your trip.
Your personal safety should be your main concern when travelling across Africa, and there are some countries where tourist travel is unadvised by the government. Make sure to check any warnings in advance of your trip and contact the relevant body to ensure that you will remain safe at all times throughout the duration of your trip.
We hope that this short guide will give you a starting point with your planning. Ensure you do plenty of research to make sure you have a smooth, enjoyable trip. Happy travelling!